What is an abstract?
An abstract of title is a bound compilation of historic information concerning a tract of land based on its legal description. An abstract shows the entire chain of ownership from the time the title to the property was first recognized by the government to the present. This set of documents will also include any items filed in the court clerk’s office that pertain to the land. Therefore, the abstract can be used to establish “marketable title” to a piece of property. When the abstract has been brought to date, an abstractor will place a “certificate page” at the end of the abstract. This page certifies that the abstract includes all pertinent documents filed in land records, ad valorem tax payment status, personal property tax payment status, and any other court items that fall within the time period covered by the certificate – from the date the abstract was last certified to present.
An abstract is valid for examination by an attorney only if it has been updated by a licensed, bonded abstract company (per State Statute 74 Section 227.10 et seq.). A valid abstract must also have an unbroken seal affixed to it. Every valid abstract will have a tax report showing ad valorem taxes, personal taxes and special assessments, if any. Each time the abstract is updated, a new certificate page will be added, which shows a brief legal description, names of parties checked and the time period of the current certification.
What is the difference between “platted” and “unplatted” land?
Platted land is a parcel of land divided into lots, as in a subdivision. The platted lots are filed with the County Clerk in a “plat” book. Unplatted land is any parcel of property which is not filed in a plat book and the legal description is described using a section, township and range.
Do I have to have an abstract when I buy or sell property?
There are no state laws that require an abstract in order to purchase real estate, and none that require title insurance when purchasing property. With few exceptions, lenders now require a title insurance lenders policy as a condition of the loan. If no lender is involved in the transaction, buyers and sellers sometimes use an abstract as an alternative to title insurance, in a manner of speaking. Many buyers and sellers in cash transactions feel it is insurance enough to order an abstract, have it examined by a title examination attorney, and clear up any title problems discovered in the process.